Software & Apps MS Office A Step-By-Step Guide to Setting the Default Message Format in Outlook Control the format of outgoing Outlook messages by Heinz Tschabitscher Writer A former freelance contributor who has reviewed hundreds of email programs and services since 1997. our editorial process Heinz Tschabitscher Updated on February 03, 2020 reviewed by Jon Fisher Lifewire Tech Review Board Member Jonathan Fisher is a CompTIA certified technologist with more than 6 years' experience writing for publications like TechNorms and Help Desk Geek. our review board Article reviewed on Jun 10, 2020 Jon Fisher MS Office Outlook Word Excel Powerpoint Tweet Share Email There are three message formats to choose from in Outlook: Plain text, HTML, and Rich Text Format. You don't have to designate your favorite format every time you compose a message. Make it your default message format in Outlook instead and apply it automatically to every message. Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, and Outlook for Microsoft 365. How to Set the Default Message Format in Outlook HTML is the default message format in Outlook. While plain text format works for all email programs, it doesn’t support text formatting. Rich Text Format (RTF) is only supported by Microsoft Exchange Client versions 4.0 and 5.0 and Outlook. To configure the default format for new emails in Outlook: Go to File > Options. In the Outlook Options dialog box, select Mail. Select the Compose messages in this format drop-down arrow and choose the format you want to use as the default for new emails. Select OK. You can set up Outlook to always use plain text or rich text for individual recipients regardless of the default message format you specify.